Dual wield

Dual wield

Dual wielding is to hold a weapon in each hand. In gaming a dual wield may also be called akimbo style, though it has little resemblance to the human position of that name. This most commonly refers to matched pairs of handguns but can refer to any other weapon that can be held in one hand such as machine pistols and even melee weapons, although this is more common in role-playing video games.



Historically, the use of two guns at once, one in each hand, is most associated with the American Old West, where revolvers holding only six rounds of ammunition were the highest capacity handguns available and reloading was a slow process. Being single action weapons, they needed to be cocked for each shot, so the rate of fire was also low, and while a shooter could fan his gun, this expended all his shots even faster and made him even more inaccurate than normal. Use of two guns was therefore a reasonable compromise, as this allowed one gun to be cocked as the other is being fired, in practical terms doubling the rate of fire and the available number of bullets.

There is some evidence that gunfighters of the Old West did not actually shoot two-handed. They would draw and fire with their strong hand, and when they had emptied the first gun, they drew the second gun with their weak hand and passed it over to their strong hand. In modern firearms terminology this is often called a "New York reload" after the practice of New York Police Department officers carrying second (and even third) guns as backup.

A possible example of actual use of two guns firing at the same time is "Dual wield", practiced by Russian special forces.[1] This also evolved as a method of increasing rate of fire, more in order to force the enemy to take cover than to try to accurately hit them, and was generally practiced by NKVD officers issued a pair of revolvers. However, the invention of smaller, cheaper submachineguns around the 1950s rendered the tactic largely obsolete and it fell into relative obscurity.

With modern shooting techniques, there is very little value to shooting with a weapon in each hand. Using modern full capacity firearms, a shooter can fire more shots with greater accuracy using a single gun in a two-handed grip than two guns with one-handed grips. Also, modern semi-automatic pistols take only a few seconds to reload. At best, the technique is only effective at extremely close ranges of five to ten feet, since the recoil would make it hard to keep both weapons straight, and using the sights on the guns is next to impossible. Among the majority of professional firearms instructors[who?], this practice is dismissed as extremely ineffective.[citation needed]


It is unknown when dual wielding was first used in fiction, but it was likely from early western novels before spilling over into other works. In the early 20th century, numerous examples abound of heroes and heroines of pulp novels, paperbacks and comics depicted wielding two pistols, most notably the pulp hero, the Shadow.

The use of two pistols simultaneously was even used in the movie adaptation of the Spider character (a contemporary of the Shadow), the Spider's Web. It is unknown when the style came out of fashion until being resurrected by Hong Kong cinema, notably movies directed by John Woo and often featuring Chow Yun Fat.

The use of this tactic was initially a rarity in Western films, as up till then it was thought to look cumbersome.[citation needed] The use of akimbo became more acceptable and achieved somewhat of a cult status after much influence from Hong Kong action cinema.[citation needed]

Naturally, action films have been a major influence on action gaming. Rise of the Triad and Marathon, both released on December 21, 1994, were the earliest first-person shooters to integrate akimbo pistols.[citation needed] In Heavy Metal: F.A.K.K.² and Shadow Man, this tactic was developed further, allowing the player to wield two dissimilar weapons at once, firing each one independently.[citation needed] Dual wielded weapons have become the trademark of some game characters, most notably Lara Croft and Dante.


Portrait of a man with arms akimbo, painting by Rembrandt, 1658

There is some confusion over the origin of this usage of the word akimbo. Technically, it is inaccurate, since the word literally refers to a stance where a person stands with their elbows bent and their hands on their hips (arms akimbo)- not a posture well suited to shooting. While this does bear some similarity with the classic posture of cowboys firing their twin revolvers from the hip, in games this posture is almost never reflected, with almost all game characters firing twin guns at shoulder level, straight-armed. Counter-Strike is a notable exception, in that the player models are seen externally to fire akimbo Berettas from the hip, but appear to be firing from shoulder level from the first-person perspective. There is no conformity on whether the word should precede or follow the name of the object it describes: both "akimbo pistols" and "pistols akimbo" are used.

The book Hong Kong Action Cinema (ISBN 0-87951-663-1) by Bey Logan suggests the word originated in Hong Kong action movies and eventually migrated to the gaming lexicon.

It is also possible that the phrase predates both of these and refers instead to Cowboy action shooting techniques.

See also


  1. ^ Simonov, Nikolay (February 2001). "Macedonian Duel" (in Russian). Center "Zdorovye Naroda". http://www.woin.ru/pages/magazine/speznaz/2_2001/19-22.htm. Retrieved 2007-02-24. [dead link]

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